Last-minute, down-to-the-wire negotiations for pop princess Britney Spears to perform on the Strip on New Year’s Eve are underway this weekend in London. Network TV officials flew to the British capital for her arrival tomorrow after debut performances in Germany last night and tonight in Paris. Here is the first YouTube coverage of her in Paris:
And here’s the first YouTube coverage of her appearance on German TV last night for their version of the Grammys -- the Bambi Awards -- in Offenberg:
She heads to England for tomorrow’s live appearance with Simon Cowell on his top TV show, X Factor -- her first appearance there in five years -- and mob mayhem has already begun.
Britney and her manager have tentatively given the “America’s Party” New Year’s Eve project a thumbs-up, but it’s the scary logistics of getting her in and out of the crowds on the busiest night of the year that are the greatest concern. She was surrounded by almost a 100-strong army of paparazzi as she checked in at Los Angeles International Airport for her flight to Frankfurt. Some of the crazed clickers are even following her throughout Europe, where even more frenzied photogs are shadowing her every step.
It would be exactly two years to the day when Britney collapsed at Pure at Caesars Palace and the tragic downward spiral of her troubled life first began. Within an hour of this photograph being taken, I watched as she slid from her seat onto the floor in a state of semi-consciousness and was dragged out of the club under blankets. Now two years later, the divorces, visits to psychiatric wards, rehab clinics, child custody court battles and the disastrous performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in the Palms here are behind her, and she could be returning here to conquer the Strip once again.
I can exclusively reveal that Britney is planning to sing two songs on the live-for-East Coast-transmission two-hour show. She also would sit with host and American Idol judge Randy Jackson for a retrospective of her career. They would discuss her comeback, her world tour plans and the new album Circus, featuring the huge hit “Womanizer” -- all engineered over the past 12 months by her mastermind manager, Larry Rudolph.
If all is resolved this weekend, I am told to expect an official press conference Dec. 8 to announce Britney’s participation and the remainder of the all-star lineup for the network special.
To date, the only announced venues for her new world tour include the Allstate Arena in Chicago on March 30 and two shows at the famed, prestigious 02 Arena in London on June 3 and 4. I’m told that two concert performances here in Las Vegas are currently being scheduled for the global gallivant -- but no firm date yet! A Los Angeles court judge gave approval for Britney to tour both here in the U.S. and overseas just last week because of the existing rulings about custody and visitation with her children in the proceedings with her ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Ironically, it was during a Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, vacation this year with a group of friends that included Palms hotel tycoon George Maloof that Britney got back the courage to perform again. After a day of riding horses on the beach near the One&Only Palmilla and Las Ventanas resorts, they relaxed over a dinner that ended with George persuading Britney to sing at the piano in the empty lounge. She resisted at first but finally gave in nervously -- and the applause that night convinced Britney that she could get her career back on track.
Rudolph, who is a co-owner of the Sunset Tan salon at George’s Palms Place condo-tel here, told me several times as plans for her comeback fell into place that it would be the “biggest, best and most amazing show business story.” Vegas DeLuxe recently posted photographs of Britney and Larry selecting the dancers for her new tour and their initial rehearsals. (Click HERE for Luxe Life's recent coverage of Britney's comeback.)
Now comes the debut of her appropriately titled new album Circus on Tuesday, the day of her 27th birthday, which she will celebrate in New York City with a live concert showcase on ABC’s Good Morning America from the Big Apple Circus -- under the big top at Lincoln Center. The new album includes the sexually suggestive tracks “Lace and Leather” and “Mannequin.” Critics have been lavishing praise for “Out From Under,” “Unusual You,” the salute to Madonna with “My Baby” and “Radar.” “Womanizer” was the first single release and has already shot to the top of the charts.
The CD release has been accompanied by an onslaught of publicity and news and magazine stories, including a major Rolling Stone magazine cover feature in which she admits these days that she feels like “an old person, an old fart,” going to bed at 9:30 p.m. every day.
This big birthday weekend is highlighted by the 90-minute, commercial-free MTV documentary For the Record, airing 10 p.m. Sunday Pacific Time. It took three months to film. It is a revealing, emotional and sometimes heartbreaking intimate portrait of a troubled dance music diva finding her life again after two years of turmoil. The photographs from the special often show Britney as a forlorn, sad, wistful, distant and detached individual wondering why her life became such a headline tragedy.
Britney is now guarded around the clock by security guards, is monitored strictly by her father who is now her permanent legal conservator -- and even goes on dates accompanied by her manager. She also is not allowed to drive anywhere by herself.
She says: “I wanted to make the film because I wasn’t seen in the light I wanted to be seen in. The way I used to live, I was a pretty cool chick, and I’m not really that way anymore. I sit there and I look back at everything that happened, and I’m, like, ‘I’m a smart person. What the hell was I thinking?’ I’ve been through a lot in the past two or three years, and there’s a lot that people don’t know. I hope it sets the record straight.”
Britney admits that she became a party girl after the breakup of her near yearlong romance with Justin Timberlake, and then the mistake marriage to Federline. “I felt so alone. I never really faced it, and I just ran,” she confessed.
“I have really good days, and then I have bad days. My life has been worse than a jail sentence since the breakdown, but I’m slowly healing one day at a time. Even when you go to jail, you know there’s the time you’re gonna get out. But this situation is never-ending, and, just like that Groundhog Day movie, I’m having to pay for it for a really long time. I totally lost my way, lost focus, lost myself. I think I’ve learned my lesson now, and enough is enough. I think it could be a lot worse. People have it a lot worse than I do. I know where I’m headed now.”
Mastermind manager Larry had the final word: “She loves to work. She’s a very strong person. Every day she gets happier and stronger. She’s definitely ready.”
And as he promised me: “This will be the biggest showbiz comeback in history.”